Quote from Charles Spurgeon, from Geese In Their Hoods: Selected Writings on Roman Catholicism, compiled & edited by Timothy Kauffman)
"In Brussels, I heard a good sermon in a Romish church. The place was crowded with people, many of them standing, though they might have had a seat for a halfpenny or a farthing; and I stood, too; and the good priest -- for I believe he is a good man, -- preached the Lord Jesus with all his might. He spoke of the love of Christ, so that I, a very poor hand at the French language, could fully understand him, and my heart kept beating within me as he told of the beauties of Christ, and the preciousness of His blood, and of His power to save the chief of sinners. He did not say, 'justification by faith,' but he did say, 'efficacy of the blood,' which comes to very much the same thing. He did not tell us we were saved by grace, and not by our works; but he did say that all the works of men were less than nothing when brought into competition with the blood of Christ, and that the blood of Jesus alone could save. True, there were objectionable sentences, as naturally there must be in a discourse delivered under such circumstances; but I could have gone to the preacher, and have said to him, 'Brother, you have spoken the truth;' and if I had been handling the text, I must have treated it in the same way that he did, if I could have done it as well. I was pleased to find my own opinion verified, in his case, that there are, even in the apostate church, some who cleave unto the Lord, -- some sparks of Heavenly fire that flicker amidst the rubbish of old superstition, some lights that are not blown out, even by the strong wind of Popery, but still cast a feeble gleam across the waters sufficient to guide the soul to the rock Christ Jesus. I saw, in that church, a box for contributions for the Pope; he will never grow rich with what I put into it."
<<Please could you comment as to whether this quotation is being used "selectively" in such a way that it would go counter to the express intentions for which it was included in your book. Thank you. Your sincerely, David Haslam.>>
<<Thank you for writing to verify the veracity of the statement which was quoted to you from "Geese in their Hoods." I compiled and edited the works of Spurgeon that are contained in that book. My purpose in doing so was to compile what I considered to be a fair representation of Spurgeon's thinking on Roman Catholicism. I included that statement (though, as editor, it certainly was my prerogative to omit it) because I wanted to represent Spurgeon's thinking--not represent my thinking on what Spurgeon should have thought.
To me it is unfortunate that some think that men ought to be judged on the slip of the tongue rather than on the weight of their testimony. I have said a good number of things I deeply regret. Indeed, I have even published things I regret publishing (Geese in their Hoods is not one of them). I have written extensively on the apparitions of Mary, and in my first edition, before I understood the reformed faith, I included the unqualified statement about the Jews' rejection of Christ that "God did not intend it to be this way." As a more mature Christian, and as a confessing Calvinist, I regret having stated that, and I have since retracted the statement. The 2nd and 3rd editions of "Quite Contrary: A Biblical Reconsideration of the Apparitions of Mary," fixed that statement. But I did say it. And I said it after I was Christian. I praise God that I am not saved by my own perfection, but rather by Christ's perfection, imputed to me by faith alone. If I were to have Christ's righteousness imputed to me by a consistently perfect delivery of the Gospel of Christ, or by an infallible personal representation of the revelation of God, not only would I not receive Christ's righteousness (since I am incapable of such a performance!), but if I could, Christ's righteousness would have been imputed by works (my ability to present the Gospel), rather than by faith alone, which, of course, is to undermine the very Gospel I was attempting to convey perfectly. (I trust you will forgive me for preaching to you on a matter with which I doubt you disagree.)
My point is that Spurgeon's testimony against Roman Catholicism and all of its superstitions is weighty indeed, and it would be a shame to judge Spurgeon on one slip rather than on his consistent motto of "No Peace With Rome!" Besides, he freely confessed in his quote from the priest that "there were objectionable sentences, as naturally as there must be in a discourse delivered under such circumstances." Spurgeon can hardly be accused of colluding with Rome on account of this one priest!
Two things are worth noting.
1) Geese in their Hoods also contains a chapter called "The Florentine Monk" (Savonarola) in which Spurgeon wrote, "And while Savnarola was wedded to many of the errors of the church, yet his testimony in favour of justification by faith and not by works, the forgiveness of sins by Christ and not by man, was clear and decisive. His object was undoubtedly to purify the church of Rome, not to destroy it; but it is evident that throughout his life he was, if loyal to his church, far more loyal to Christ." Luther, Calvin, and myself (if I may include myself in such a listing) all left Romanism when we became Christian.
And I, like Luther and Calvin, brought a little bit of it with me when I left. The Lord's process of sanctifying me has taken years (it was a long time before I stopped calling Communion "the Eucharist," and I once found myself in the middle of a prayer saying, "Lord, I'm sorry, but I'll make it up to you." I stopped in mid sentence and repented. Was I Christian prior to, or after, the awful statement?) and it did with Luther and Calvin, too. We cannot rule out that Spurgeon, the priest to whom he refers, Savonarola, or anyone, may have been in the process of sanctification when we stumbled upon them, their writings, or their memory. Goodness knows I would falter if even matters from the first few days of my rebirth could be recounted!! It is wrong to expect of mere men the standard of infallibility found only in the Bible. (Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. (Romans 2:1)).
2) The blind man of John 9 was short on orthodoxy (v. 25), but long on faith! What shall we say of a man who could not freely confess Christ's sinlessness, but who was still freely saved by Christ? Let us condemn this man first, before we run after Spurgeon. Spurgeon at least knew Christ was sinless, did he not?
Of course, I begin to wax indignant, but I hope my point is well understood. Geese in their Hoods represents Spurgeon well enough. Spurgeon may not have understood Calvin completely, and I think Mark Carpenter explained that well enough in some of his earlier writings contra Spurgeon. But Geese in their Hoods is no less a representation of Spurgeon merely because Spurgeon was not perfect.
Geese in their Hoods was not written to defend or object to Spurgeon's position on Calvinism. It is unfortunate that it has been used as such.
All my best to you in Christ Jesus,
Regarding your comments about Spurgeon's accepting of some Roman Catholics as brothers in Christ:
This was no mere "slip of the tongue." It gives clear and plain evidence that Spurgeon did not know what the gospel is. The evidence was clear even before I found this quote; Spurgeon also accepted Arminians as his brothers in Christ (even the God-hating Wesleys), showing that he did not truly believe the gospel.
In your letter, you imply that you were an Arminian (i.e., believed a false gospel) after you were saved and that believing the true gospel of unconditional grace was merely a matter of maturation rather than the result of a miraclulous regeneration. You imply that one can be saved and continue to believe salvation conditioned in some part on the sinner rather than the true gospel of salvation conditioned solely on the blood and imputed righteousness of Christ alone. Am I accurately representing your position?
You mention that the priest and the monk may have been "in the process of sanctification." No one even BEGINS in the Christian life without FAITH - belief in the TRUE GOSPEL. You mentioned the blind man of John 9 was "short on orthodoxy but long on faith." You separate faith from orthodoxy, as if faith is some mystical experience devoid of truth. If this man had faith, then he believed the true gospel of salvation conditioned on the blood and imputed righteousness of Christ ALONE, and if he did not believe this, he did not have faith and was lost, because he did not believe the gospel (Mark 16:16).
A quote from John Kennedy of Dingwall is appropriate regarding Spurgeon's "stand" for the doctrines of grace in light of quotes like the ones on the priest and the monk and on Arminians:
"The telling part of the doctrine may be that which is unscriptural, and all the more is it helped to be so by the mixture of what tends to recommend it to acceptance. The measure of truth it contains merely serves, in many cases, to throw the conscience off guard. It seems to some, as if the utterance of an occasional statement, that is both indefensible and dangerous, can be quite counteracted by other statements, from the same source, that are confessedly scriptural. But in such a case, the character and tendency of the teaching are not determined by the counterpoise of truth. The sound doctrine cannot be intelligibly apprehended and honestly believed, if what is utterly inconsistent with it is both held and proclaimed. A breach in the wrapping exposes the contents of a parcel. To that opening the eye must be directed that would discover what the envelope enclosed. An occasional erroneous statement, breaking wildly through the bounds of possible orthodoxy, exposes the spirit of one's teaching, and is the index of its practical tendency."
To God ALONE be the glory,
Marc D. Carpenter
<<I have been known to be a rabid Calvinist at times, trying to get people (mostly Arminians) to grasp the concept that the future is as fixed as the past, and the mere perception of freedom is not proof of it. (I have to stop short and recognize that the same Spirit who brought me to life from the dead is capable of turning an Arminian from his error without me yelling at them.) Sometimes when I engage people in such discussions, I can become rather loud in my defense of the 100% sovereignty of God.>>
Do you tell these Arminians that the Bible states that they are lost and their deeds are evil because they do not believe the gospel?
Do you recognize that the Spirit is not in any Arminian, and in order for an Arminian to believe the Truth, he must be regenerated?
<<Some have said that the 6th point of Calvinism is "this is the best of all possible worlds." I disagree. I believe that "this is the only possible world." In light of that, I wouldn't dare to suggest that my salvation had anything at all to do with me. In fact, I was condemned in Adam long before I was ever born, and needed redemption through Christ's blood before I ever learned the difference between right and wrong. I spent last week reminding people during a study in Galatians that we must be very precise in our understanding of Justification by faith alone. Faith is not the righteousness God requires for salvation. Christ's righteousness is that righteousness required of us by God, and it can only be received by faith. I am no synergist. A monergist through and through. I find Arminianism as distasteful as you do.>>
Is it so distasteful that you realize that all Arminians are going about to establish a righteousness of their own and that they spit in the face of Christ by saying that He died for everyone without exception yet not everyone for whom He died will be saved?
Do you realize Arminianism to be a damnable lie from the pit of hell and that all who espouse this damnable lie are under the curse of God?
<<John Robbins is meticulously reformed in his thinking and in his publishing. As I recall, he recanted of his endorsement of Spurgeon after when he published your articles on him.>>
Have you, too, recanted your endorsement of Spurgeon after seeing that he believed the following: (1) God desires the salvation every person without exception, (2) The Bible contains contradictions, (3) Outspoken Arminians such as the Wesleys were saved, and (4) A Roman Catholic priest and monk were saved?
Some more questions for you:
(1) You said:
<<I have written extensively on the apparitions of Mary, and in my first edition, before I understood the reformed faith, I included the unqualified statement about the Jews' rejection of Christ that "God did not intend it to be this way." As a more mature Christian, and as a confessing Calvinist, I regret having stated that, and I have since retracted the statement. The 2nd and 3rd editions of "Quite Contrary: A Biblical Reconsideration of the Apparitions of Mary," fixed that statement. But I did say it. And I said it after I was Christian. I praise God that I am not saved by my own perfection, but rather by Christ's perfection, imputed to me by faith alone. If I were to have Christ's righteousness imputed to me by a consistently perfect delivery of the Gospel of Christ, or by an infallible personal representation of the revelation of God, not only would I not receive Christ's righteousness (since I am incapable of such a performance!), but if I could, Christ's righteousness would have been imputed by works (my ability to present the Gospel), rather than by faith alone, which, of course, is to undermine the very Gospel I was attempting to convey perfectly.>>
Are you saying that you were an Arminian after you were saved?
(2) What is the gospel, and is anyone saved who does not believe the gospel?
(3) What is the spiritual state of those who say they believe the gospel and yet tolerate the false gospel?
I'm looking forward to your response.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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